Federal judge rejects Virginia law binding convention delegates to vote for primary victor

A Republican delegate from Virginia should not be forced under state law to vote for Donald Trump at the nominating convention this month, ruled a federal judge. The delegate argued that Virginia law and Republican rules mandating a vote for the victor in the Virginia primary violated his free speech rights. The judge blocked the state’s rule but said he lacked jurisdiction over the rules of national political parties. (United Press International, July 11, 2016, by Doug G. Ware)

As Eric O’Keefe and David B. Rivkin Jr. explain, The Wall Street Journal, June 25, , 2016, “State laws that purport to bind delegates can’t be enforced without violating the First Amendment. A political party is a private association whose members join together to further their shared beliefs through electoral politics, and they have a right to choose their representatives. The government has no business telling parties how to select their candidates or leaders: That would be a serious infringement of the rights to free association and speech.”

The Virginia law provided for criminal penalties for anyone violating the requirement for voting for the primary victor. The judge struck that down but did not accept the principle that delegates at the convention could vote for whomever they chose.  (Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 11, 2016, by Graham Moomaw)